Posted On: 02/18/18 5:30 PM
The favorite: Outside of Sioux City East in Substate 1, Iowa City West will be the biggest favorite of any team to make it to Des Moines in 4A. The Trojans have the most talented starting five in the state, and when they lock in on the defensive end, they can be extremely difficult to score against with their size and length. Patrick McCaffery (20.5) and Seybian Sims (14.7) give them a huge edge on the glass and with their rim protection in just about every game they’ll play in for the rest of the year, and they have a pair of tremendous perimeter shooters in Dante Eldridge (11.8, 48.9 3P%) and Evan Flitz (5.8, 41.1%). They’ve struggled finding depth that they trust on a consistent basis, but if they can get quality play from Hakeem Odunsi to round out the starting five and provide good minutes, they’re tough to beat. The defending state champions have been a bit up-and-down at times this season, but they’ve also posted the most quality wins of any team in the state, showing they can be the best team in the state at various times throughout the year.
The biggest threat: Cedar Rapids Prairie routinely plays the Trojans pretty tough, and although they lost both meetings to West this season, the Hawks have been competitive in each (losses by 13 and 10). They’re a really good shooting team from the arc with Kris Murray (17.2), Keegan Murray (12.9) and Griff Clark (12.7) all potent shooters from deep who are capable of getting red hot and carrying them to wins. If they have a late lead, they’re a fantastic free throw shooting team, with that “big three” shooting a combined 86.3% from the line.
Others who could make some noise: Neither of the teams that will play West in the semifinals should provide much of a challenge, as the Trojans have beaten Washington and City by an average of 27.7 points a game in three games.
At the bottom of the bracket, Kennedy could challenge Prairie in the semifinals, but the Cougars lost to West by 37 in their only meeting and haven’t really been competitive against the Trojans since a really low-scoring meeting in 2016 (42-39 West). This substate has West/Prairie Part III written all over it.
Players to watch
2019 Patrick McCaffery, Iowa City West
2018 Seybian Sims, Iowa City West
2019 Dante Eldridge, Iowa City West
2019 Kris Murray, Cedar Rapids Prairie
2019 Keegan Murray, Cedar Rapids Prairie
2018 Griff Clark, Cedar Rapids Prairie
2020 Jack Wetzel, Cedar Rapids Kennedy
2019 Mick McCurry, Cedar Rapids Washington
2020 Campbell Mitvalsky, Cedar Rapids Washington
2019 Antonio Turner, Iowa City High
2020 Keshawn Christian, Iowa City High
2019 Andrew Curran, Ottumwa
SUBSTATE FINAL PREDICTION
Iowa City West vs. Cedar Rapids Prairie (game played at US Cellular Center, Cedar Rapids)
These teams actually met at The Cell earlier this year as part of the Wells Fargo Advisors Shootout, with West winning by ten. The Trojans are the more talented team, and while Prairie plays them tough, it’ll be tough for the Hawks to overcome the size that West has on the interior and on the glass. The Trojans make their eighth straight state tournament appearance, with a real shot at winning their fifth title in that time.